The Future in the Outfield

Originally this spot was going to be filled by a mailbag, but the overall lack of questions coupled with one intriguing question has taken this in a different direction.  Here is the question:

In itself it is a very simple question that I can give an answer that will likely prove to be false anyway.  What makes this question intriguing is that I have started the very early stages of the offseason ranking project.  Right now penciled into the Top 20 prospects are 10 outfield prospects, which was very surprising at first, but once you go over the names it makes a good amount of sense of why they are all there.  So with that, lets expand the question to what does the projected outfield look like going forward.  Since we don’t quite know what free agents will be available, I will touch on the top names that we know of, but I won’t pencil them into the projections, rather I assume you, the reader, will take weaknesses in this projection and dream whatever big name out there you like, that could fill that spot.

Free Agents:

The big sexy name on the free agent market is Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas.  Tomas is now 24 years old, is limited to left field and has immense raw power.  The Phillies are in hard on him, but much like every other Cuban, we really don’t know what he could be, his numbers were not as good as some of the other players to come over recently, but his age and power make him very intriguing.  Also available this offseason is Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz, he will be 34 and come with a qualifying offer, which likely takes him out of the Phillies interest.  There is also Melky Cabrera who will be 30 years, and likely will also come with a qualifying offer.  Despite the gaudy numbers (.301/.351/.458), he has only been worth about 3 wins this year due to subpar outfield defense.  The skillset may not scare off the Phillies, but years on his deal will.

After 2015, the names gets more cloudy as we don’t know who may sign extensions or break out.  But after the 2015 season Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes will be free agents, and all should command massive free agent deals.  After 2016, Giancarlo Stanton headlines a class that will include veterans Alex Gordon and Jose Bautista.  No one here is going to come cheap, but the Phillies will be starting to shed salaries over the next few seasons and have a large enough revenue stream that they will be in the bidding for any player they want.

Major League Assets:

In the majors the Phillies have a bunch of familiar names in Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, and Darin Ruf.  First lets remove Ruf from the conversation, whatever your thoughts are about him, he is not a starting outfielder, the defense is really bad.  Marlon Byrd has essentially 2 years left on his contract, but the Phillies will probably look to move him if they bring in any sort of free agent.  The Phillies have really soured on Domonic Brown, and for good reason, he has real problems with the mental aspects of the game, but there is a ton of potential there, I personally would like another year of him where they leave him alone, but the front office might just want to cut ties now.  Ben Revere has gotten a lot of crap from many outlets, but he is a fine placeholder in center field, if only he could improve his defense.  This group is not who you want for your future (unless Domonic Brown rediscovers himself), but they can make half decent place holders.

Prospects:

So finally to those ten guys who were in the preliminary group of top 20 prospects: Kelly Dugan (RF), Roman Quinn (CF), Carlos Tocci (CF), Jose Pujols (RF), Aaron Altherr (CF), Cord Sandberg (RF), Dylan Cozens (RF), Jiandido Tromp (LF), Aaron Brown (RF), and Cameron Perkins (LF).  There is a large diversity of players here ranging from defensive specialists (Tocci) to hulking mashers (Cozens), the upside ranges from relatively safe 4th outfielder (Perkins) to extreme risk/reward (Pujols).  In terms of immediate help, Dugan, Altherr, and Perkins will all be in AAA next year, and Quinn will be a short trip away in AA, there may not be immediate room, but that should contribute soon.

Projections:

Again these don’t account for free agents or trades.  So without further ado, here is 2015:

Left FieldCenter FieldRight Field
Domonic BrownBen RevereMarlon Byrd

Yes that is the same outfield as 2014, it is hard to see any of Perkins, Altherr, or Dugan winning a spot out of spring training.  The huge caveat here is that I think they go hard after Tomas which means they make a trade of Byrd in most scenarios.  They probably also platoon heavily with Brown if he is in a corner too.  In other words, I know this is wrong, but can’t guarantee another option.  So on to 2016:

Left FieldCenter FieldRight Field
Ben RevereAaron AltherrKelly Dugan

We will pencil Ben into left field for now, but that spot is really up for grabs.  Altherr is another placeholder type, and a good year by Roman Quinn could force the issue in center field.  But Altherr is a better fielder than Ben and can put up solid power numbers, but with a lot of swing and miss.  I really like Kelly Dugan in the outfield, it isn’t an extreme upside but he is really solid and good put up numbers that give you good production in right field.  But nonetheless on to 2017:

Left FieldCenter FieldRight Field
Dylan Cozens/Aaron AltherrRoman QuinnKelly Dugan

I am going to go out on a limb and put a platoon in left field (there might be some of that going on in right field with Cam Perkins).  Cozens has started to show some platoon splits already, and Altherr is a perfect defensive complement that may be able to have some of his weaknesses hidden by such a partnership.  Roman Quinn has the potential to be a dynamic center fielder with great range and arm, and at the plate he is going to give some pop and contact, the skill set still has some growth to do though.  And onto our last projection, 2018:

Left FieldCenter FieldRight Field
Jose PujolsRoman QuinnKelly Dugan

Once again I will go with the Quinn-Dugan pairing in the outfield, but into the mix we will add Jose Pujols.  It is aggressive just to think of Pujols in the majors by 2018, but he offers the most upside in the outfield.  If his skillset comes together he will shoot up through the system, but it could also take a long time.  Either way, this is a very dynamic outfield with a LH, RH, and switch hitting bat, a combination of speed, power, and on-base, and what could be solid defense.

In Summary:

Without a top 100 prospect in the outfield it is hard to write in cornerstone players, but the outfield is far from devoid of potential.  The odds are also in favor of the Phillies pursuing a big outfield bat on a big deal at some point during this time period.  For example if Tomas is who we think he is and is the LF in all these scenarios, we are all feeling much better about the future.  There is a chance everyone here fails, but there is also the upside that a Jiandido Tromp or Carlos Tocci puts together the physical attributes to go shooting up the lists.  There is a lot to dream about, and in the end, prospects and the future are just dreams.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

5 comments

  1. Well thought out observations. I hope that the young prospects are given the chances outlined here.

  2. Anonymous 1

    So Tocci in his current form doesnt make it to the MLB or Tocci doesnt make it until after 2019

    • Matt Winkelman

      Tocci is just a lesser prospect than Roman Quinn right now. If both hit their potential then you have a good problem and you trade one of them.

      • Anonymous 1

        I think it would be Tocci that gets traded, Quinns speed is to great of an asset and it doesnt seem like Tocci is gonna get near a plus plus tool, and hopefully if either one of them gets traded it isnt Amaro who is orchestrating the deal

  3. RedBeard

    I freaking love Cozens. I get out to Lakewood a couple times a year, and he has been my favorite to watch this year. I wasn’t aware of any developing platoon splits, but I think the most important splits were his home/road splits. Lakewood might as well be 500 ft down the lines. It’s an offensive wasteland. He crushed the ball away from there. I’m really looking forward to him going to Clearwater next year, then hurrying the hell up so I can go see him in Reading. I have a feeling that he’s going spend a couple really fine seasons as a corner outfielder in Philly.

    I know he didn’t make any list up there, and I am by no means a scout, but Aaron Brown seems to have a pretty hefty hole in his swing. The games I caught, that he played, were uninspiring. I understand that he has to adjust to playing the field full time, and getting 4 AB’s a game, but he has a lot of work to do. With that said, if he can figure out a level swing sooner rather than later, I think that given his age, he’ll have a shot to make it to right field on Dugan’s heels. He’s got a pretty good arm, and seems to have nice instincts in the outfield. I hope they don’t switch him back to the mound too soon. If there’s one thing this team has all through the minors and the 40 man, it’s middle relievers.